Life in the Lab, the essential guide to becoming a researcher
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Life in the Lab, the essential guide to becoming a researcher

Experimental design, conducting research, data analysis and statistics, and writing up your work for publication

About the Book

My goal for this book was to create a useful resource for people embarking on a research career. The one book that every supervisor would hope their team would have read. As such, I have included all the different aspects of life as a researcher from before you begin right through to publishing high-quality papers. The content should be deep enough to be useful but accessible and entertaining enough for it not to be boring or hard to read.

The contents of this book are intended to lay sound foundations for all the main aspects of being a successful scientist. However, one guide book can’t tell you everything. Your supervisors, lab mates, mentors and lecturers will all build on the foundations. You will also need to go deeper into your project-specific areas but, hopefully, by reading this book everything else should be a bit easier to learn. If I have done a good job, those massive statistics, experimental design or other complicated textbooks will all be less painful

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About the Author

Kevin Hamill
Kevin Hamill

Dr Kevin Hamill is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Liverpool in England where he teaches Laboratory Skills to Masters students, Experimental Design to PhD students, and runs writing courses for Postgraduate students. In addition to teaching, he runs a molecular biology research lab focused on cell to extracellular matrix interactions (LaNts and laminins). He currently has five PhD students working in his lab and each year supervises three to four undergraduate and four to five Masters-level project students. The Hamill lab's work encompasses a range of scales from whole organism work on human disease samples and transgenic animals, to ex vivo, 2D and 3D cell cultures, and molecular or protein biochemistry studies measuring alternative splicing and protein-protein interactions in vitro. As an established researcher, Dr Hamill has written and reviewed many papers and serves as an associate editor on research journals within his field. Before moving to the University of Liverpool, Kevin was a post-doctoral researcher and then Research Assistant Professor at Northwestern University, Chicago, after obtaining a PhD in Molecular Genetics from the University of Dundee, Scotland.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Before you Begin   

1.1         About this book

1.2         Choosing a Project          

1.3         Applying for a Research Position               

1.4         Starting a New Project  

1.5         Information Gathering  

Chapter 2: Experimental Design

2.1         Project design  35

2.2         Experiment Design Preliminaries              

2.3         Correlative or Manipulative?      

2.4         Measurements

2.5         Controls              

2.6         Independence and Randomisation          

2.7         Sample Size Calculations              

2.8         Experimental Design – Final Checks         

Chapter 3: Life in the Lab             

3.1         Research Ethics

3.2         Tips for Lab Life

3.3         Time Management        

3.4         Lab Books           

3.5         Data Management         

Chapter 4: Processing Data         

4.1         Data Analysis    

4.2         Data processing

4.3         How to Deal with Outliers           

4.4         Inferential Statistics: Testing for Significance       

4.5         Writing About Statistics

Chapter 5: Graphs, Tables and Figures   

5.1         Figure Preparation         

5.2         Tables  

5.3         Graphs

5.4         Figure Legends / Captions           

Chapter 6: Writing          

6.1         General Writing Tips:

6.2 Microsoft Word tips and tricks                 

6.3         Notes on Scientific Publishing    

6.4         Literature Reviews and Review articles  

6.5         Referencing      

6.6         Writing for the Public    

Chapter 7: Writing Papers           

7.1         Steps to a Quality Paper

7.2         The Title Page   

7.3         Choosing an Effective Title          

7.4         Scientific Abstracts         

7.5         Introductions    

7.6         Materials and Methods

7.7         Results Sections

7.8         Discussions        

Chapter 8: Editing           

8.1         Editing Stage I: Document-Level

8.2         Editing Stage II - Paragraphs       

8.3         Editing Stage III: Sentences         

8.4         Editing Stage IV: Word Choice    

8.5         Editing Stage V: Final Checks      

Chapter 9: Talks and Posters      

9.1 Talks              

9.2 Posters      

Chapter 10: Resources  

10.1       Specific Materials and Methods Sections              

10.2       Experimental Design Checklist   

10.3       Statistics Tests Flow Chart           

10.4        Choosing A Graph          

10.5       Manuscript Preparation Checklist            

10.6       Figure Preparation Checklist       

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